MEDINA, Ohio — For 18 years, Santosuossos’ Italian Restaurant has been the place to go in Medina County for authentic Italian food. Owner and operator George Santosuosso said he was busy even in the height of the pandemic when they only offered carry out.
“The community supported us like you wouldn’t believe,” said Santosuosso.
Since the restaurant reopened, the customers returned, but workers did not.
“We’re doing huge volumes with half the people,” he said.
Now, as you walk in, you’ll see a note on the door that warns people that service and wait times may be slower than normal.
“If you’re in a rush, we don’t mean to be smart, I’d rather not have you come in, then come in and get bad service,” said Santosuosso.
He said he’s working with half the staff.
“The people that have been with me, stayed with me, they’re just burning out. They’re working double shifts all the time,” he said.
So, Santosuosso took off a shift of his own, and took to the streets. He went to the I-71 South Medina exit ramp and held up a sign that read "Not Homeless, Helpless—Santosuossos’ hiring all positions.”
“I think it was self-explanatory what I needed,” he said. “I just stood there and I had applications in my hand and anyone who wanted one, just took their hand out the window and I handed it to them," he said.
He got three new workers from it, including waitress Sheila Knapp.
“I saw George standing with the sign on the road,” Knapp said. “I went immediately and got an application and was hired on the spot.”
The exposure from the sign brought more than just hopeful applicants into the restaurant, it was also a catalyst for an idea of how to tap into an entire untapped pool of potential workers.
Linda Huska didn’t know Santosuosso and had never been to his restaurant, but she heard about his sign.
“I knew right then and there that the plan I had in my head, I needed to share with him,” Huska said.
She called the restaurant.
“I was becoming more and more frustrated with the fact that more small businesses were going out of business and I figured ‘there’s got to be a way,’ we can’t let this country down,” Huska said.
She told Santosuosso her idea: To hire seniors, aged 55-years-old and up.
Huska is retired, but worked with senior citizens her entire life.
“They have a very good work ethic and I thought they’d be perfect to fill the gap until people come back to work,” she said. “Even my husband and I were willing to help him out.”
Santosuosso was on board, and together, they’re marketing anywhere a senior may be.
“Tapping into your church, your chamber of commerce, assisted living places,” he said.
It’s a small start, but one they hope starts to catch on.
“I want to see this country come back and I can’t see any other way,” she said.
If you’d like to inquire about jobs at Santosuossos’ Restaurant, call (330) 764-9888.